Spain axe Torres for international friendly

Updated: 24 February 2012 18:06 IST

Struggling Chelsea striker Fernando Torres has been dropped by Spain for the first time in more than five years.

Spain axe Torres for international friendly
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Struggling Chelsea striker Fernando Torres has been dropped by Spain for the first time in more than five years.

Torres was missing from the squad announced on Friday by coach Vicente del Bosque for next week's international friendly against Venezuela.

Spain will play once more after Wednesday's game before Del Bosque picks the squad that will defend its title at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine in June.

"Torres is not in good form and we believed in this case it was better if he didn't come," Del Bosque said on Friday. "But this doesn't mean anything. This is not a definitive list for Euro (2012)."

Torres has been a regular in Spain's team since 2004, with the Chelsea striker scoring the winning goal against Germany in the Euro 2008 final for Spain to win its first major trophy in 44 years.

The 27-year-old hadn't been dropped by his country since November 2006, but his last competitive goal for Spain came in September 2010. His last Chelsea goal came in October.

Del Bosque also left out Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez, another player from the 2010 World Cup-winning squad.

As expected, Torres was replaced by Valencia striker Roberto Soldado and Athletic Bilbao forward Iker Muniain got his first call-up. The promising Spain Under-21 player was among four Bilbao players included in the squad alongside striker Fernando Llorente and defenders Javi Martinez and Andoni Iraiola.

"This list is a nod to Athletic and the young players coming up," Del Bosque said.

Barcelona dominated the list as expected, with seven players on the 24-man squad, and Bilbao's four eclipsing Real Madrid's three.

Pedro's form has been irregular due to injuries, while Del Bosque included Xavi Hernandez despite the Barcelona playmaker having featured little over the last month due to a nagging Achilles injury.

Spain is looking to become the first team to defend its European title after winning the World Cup. It opens the tournament in Poland and Ukraine against Italy on June 10 before matches against fellow Group C rivals Ireland and Croatia.

Topics : Football Chelsea Arsenal Fernando Jose Torres Sanz Atletico Madrid Barcelona Aston Villa Croatia Spain Liverpool
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